Following is another in a series of columns on the Baptist Faith & Message 2000.
Southern Baptists refer to baptism and the Lord’s Supper as ordinances, meaning the Lord commands believers to carry out these symbolic activities, which picture the finished work of Christ and prepare us for his imminent return.
Article VII of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reads:
“Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is a prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.
“The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.”
Southern Baptists refer to baptism and the Lord’s Supper as ordinances. That means the Lord commands believers to carry out these symbolic activities, which picture the finished work of Christ and prepare us for his imminent return.
Ordinances have no saving value, for a person receives everlasting life only by faith in Jesus. Even so, baptism and the Lord’s Supper are important acts of obedience.
Some, like Roman Catholics, refer to baptism and Holy Communion as sacraments, meaning they are necessary for salvation.
Others, like Presbyterians, also call baptism and the Lord’s Supper sacraments, but that doesn’t mean they are necessary for salvation. Rather, they are “means of God’s grace” – special ways that God speaks to our hearts, gives us a visible way of establishing the difference between believers and unbelievers, and prepares us to serve him.Continue reading →
Following is another in a series of columns on The Baptist Faith & Message 2000.
Article VI of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reads:
“A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.
“The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.”
The Greek word translated “church” is ekklesia and means “called out ones.” The term appears more than 100 times in the New Testament and refers to the community of believers over which Jesus is head (Col. 1:18). Thus, the church is neither a physical structure nor a man-made institution. It is the living, breathing body of Christ.
The Bible generally speaks of the church in two significant ways: as universal and local.
The universal church is the complete body of believers who have trusted in Jesus as Lord and Savior. It cannot be divided along denominational lines, although such distinctions provide clarity in beliefs and practices.
Membership in the universal church cannot be bought, begged, stolen, inherited, earned, or conferred by any human or angelic being. It comes only by the grace of God through faith in Jesus (John 1:12; 5:24; Eph. 2:8-9). Key passages that address the universal church include Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 15:9; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:29-30; Col. 1:18; and Rev. 5:9-10; 7:9.
Most New Testament references to the church focus on local congregations. The local church may be defined as a body of baptized believers in Jesus who live in the same community and gather at a common place for worship, fellowship, instruction, and service.
Scripture instructs Christians to identify with a local church in order to grow spiritually (Heb. 10:24-25). It is through the local church that believers exercise their spiritual gifts and take part in worship, fellowship, Bible study, church discipline, missions, and other communal activities. Key passages that address the local church include Acts 9:31; Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 1:2; 16:19; and Col. 4:15.Continue reading →
Article IV of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reads:
“Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.”
People use the words salvation and saved in a variety of settings, from sporting events to political campaigns to natural disasters. Even within Christian circles, there is disagreement as to what it means to be saved and how salvation is acquired. So, it’s critical for us to begin with a definition.
Stated simply, salvation is God’s remedy for the sin that has ruined everything and alienated everyone from him. The Lord reveals this remedy as soon as Adam and Eve rebel against him. He promises a future redeemer who crushes the head of Satan (Gen. 3:15). Then, he provides additional promises throughout the Old Testament, granting us more than 400 prophecies, appearances, or foreshadows of the Messiah.
Jesus of Nazareth bursts onto the scene at just the right time (Gal. 4:4). He lives a sinless life and dies on a Roman cross, taking upon himself our sins and paying the penalty of death for them (2 Cor. 5:21). Then, he rises physically from the dead on the third day, conquering Satan, sin, and death, and freely offering forgiveness of sins and everlasting life by grace through faith in him.
Before ascending into heaven, Jesus promises to return one day to fulfill all things – that is, to complete his work of salvation, judge every person, and set everything right.Continue reading →
Article III of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reads:
“Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.”
God’s crowning act of creation occurred when “the LORD God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7).
The Bible is a story about God and human beings: Adam and Eve’s creation in innocence, their rebellion and fall, and God’s work of restoring both sinful mankind and a cursed creation to their Edenic innocence. God’s redemptive role in human history may be summarized in several key biblical truths.
1. God has created every human being in his image. All people possess the imago dei, or image of God. This doesn’t mean we look like God, for God is spirit. It means, however, that all people possess a spiritual capacity that makes us moral creatures who can know God and enjoy intimate fellowship with him.
Every person, regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, abilities, socioeconomic class, or even behavior retains God-given worth and dignity. The imago dei extends to every human being without exception. Therefore, every person is to be treated with the utmost respect.
By making human beings in his image, God sets humanity apart from the rest of creation. His work of redemption is directed specifically to the salvation of men and women whose imago dei has been tarnished by sin.Continue reading →
Article II-A of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reads:
“God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.”
There is little dispute among professing Christians that our Heavenly Father is God. But if we fail to understand the Father correctly, and if we miss the clear teachings of Scripture with respect to his relationship with the other members of the Godhead, then the biblical doctrines of creation, redemption, and restoration suffer as well.
It’s important to note while the Father is a person, he is not human. Balaam – a scoundrel who prophesied for hire – nevertheless spoke the truth concerning God’s unchanging decrees when he said, “God is not a man, that he might lie, or a son of man, that he might change his mind. Does he speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?” (Num. 23:19).
On another occasion, the prophet Samuel informs Saul that the Lord has torn away the kingship of Israel from Saul and given it to David. “Furthermore,” he says, “the Eternal One of Israel does not lie or change his mind, for he is not man who changes his mind” (1 Sam. 15:29). Other Old Testament passages make similar claims (Job 9:32; Isa. 31:2; Hos. 11:9).Continue reading →